Reviews for My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!)

A Fuse 8 Production (an SLJ blog): “Hilarious and heartbreaking and funny funny funny.” I love this review from Elizabeth Bird. She reads more books in a week than I do in a year and really understood what I was trying to achieve with MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES.

Kirkus: “A knee-slapper of a debut featuring a narrator who is rather less than 99 percent reliable but 100 percent engaging. (Historical fiction. 10-12)” Check out the entire review here.

The School Library Journal review: DECAMP, Alison. My Near-Death Adventures. 272p. Crown. Feb. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385390446; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385390453.

Gr 4-6 –Stan, the protagonist of DeCamp’s lively and folksy debut novel, lives with his mother in Michigan in the late 1800s when a mysterious envelope arrives that changes their lives. Eleven-year-old Stan (who is literally counting the days until he turns twelve) has always assumed that his “long-lost father” is dead, but with the arrival of the envelope–and Stan’s grandmother–he learns that his father is alive. Stan’s “near-death” adventures begin when he travels to his uncle’s logging camp where his mother and grandmother will cook for “real lumberjacks.” With his cousin Geri (older than Stan by “twenty-three months and three days”) as his guide, Stan navigates life with a group of colorful characters, using vivid language to describe the loggers and his campaign for his mother’s permission to participate in the annual logrolling event. While Stan helps with chores, forms friendships with the loggers, and feels uneasy about the interest several men express in his mother, his rich imagination finds an outlet in the scrapbook he fills with magazine ads and clippings, copies of which are scattered throughout the novel. More poignant is the life Stan imagines his father having while waiting for his young son to find him. “I imagine he’s out in the world doing something amazing, like mining gold or riding through the Wild West on horseback,” Stan thinks. A secondary plot about Geri’s interest in becoming a doctor enriches the story. Stan is a likable character with an exaggerated view of his abilities and a good heart. DeCamp’s novel is a solid choice for fans of Rodman Philbrick’s The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Scholastic, 2009).–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

Publishers Weekly‘s review:

Set in 1895 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, DeCamp’s exuberant first novel introduces 11-year-old Stan Slater who, readers quickly come to realize, is unknowingly vocalizing some of his rambling thoughts and wild imaginings, saying aloud things better kept to himself. Once readers acclimate to this narrative quirk, they’ll easily become invested in Stan’s story, which begins with him learning that the father he thought was dead is actually just a deadbeat. (Stan, however, remains “pretty sure he’s a rich cowboy or exploring the wilds of North Pole, unable to contact us because of life-or-death matters.”) Because of the family’s precarious financial situation, Stan, his mother, and his acerbic Granny move to a remote logging camp, where Stan becomes convinced a lumberjack named Stinky Pete is a “cold-blooded killer,” clashes with his cousin Geraldine, and is intensely displeased by his mother’s suitors. Vintage images with irreverent captions (ostensibly taken from Stan’s scrapbook) and imagined letters from Stan’s absent father pepper the pages, adding another layer of comedy to Stan’s freewheeling narration. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Feb.)

San Francisco Book Review by Rosi Hollinbeck:

“Alison DeCamp has written a very funny book that will keep young readers engaged and turning pages.” Read the full review here. And check out Rosi’s blog, The Write Stuff.


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